News Notes


Firing Zones

Firing-RangeArmy has run out of firing ranges in Jammu and Kashmir as a re-notification of 10 field firing ranges is pending with the state government, they were told to vacate from 15 places. The 50-year-lease period of firing ranges to the Army had ended in November last year.

The Army has been asked to vacate Leh, Hanuthang Biamah, Dah Biahmah, Nimu and Kaksar (in Ladakh), Tattoo Ground, Wuzur, Haft Chinar, Gund and Sonamarg (in Kashmir) and Nagrota, Poonch, Sunderbani, Jammu Airport and Jammu Transit Camp (in Jammu).

“The re-notification of 10 field firing ranges in the Northern Command is pending with the state government, there are 15 other cases where the state government has asked us to vacate land,” said a top Army source.

As a result, the Army, in a bid to keep its troops battle ready, has been sending them to field firing ranges in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

“Putting additional, but avoidable burden on the Defence budget, the Army since January this year is sending troops with cannons, weapons and ammunition to the firing ranges in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” he added.

The field firing ranges were Mahe near Nyoma in Leh with an area of 67,953.97 hectares, Khurbathang in Kargil, Tartar in Leh with 650 hectares, Kulum at Upshi in Leh with 24,858.5 hectares, TosaMaidan in Budgam with 27,016 hectares, Chorkhud in Poonch with 10,625 hectares, Kalith in Akhnoor with 15,604 hectares, Rajouri, Jhallas in Poonch and Garhi in Nowshera.

The state government has linked it’s re-notification for five years with handing over of the Lower Kharbuthang plateau, called the Kharo field firing range.

The lapsing of lease of the firing ranges has resulted in lack of firing practice to units and it has resulted in preventable movement of troops, weapons, related equipment and avoidable burden on the Defence budget.

Uneven Gain

Uneven-UnityLately, as spring flurred in valley, so returned Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani from his three months stay in New Delhi and his faction of once strong resistance camp All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) gained some eight organizations including those who left peacenik and chief cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

The struggle for right to self-determination in state saw birth of dozens of resistance groups and formally in 1993, with the US intervention, APHC came in to being. At least, 50 groups were part of it and not more than a decade later, the skeletons started tumbling out of cupboard and APHC got divided. Then in jail, Geelani accused others in APHC of supporting 2002 assembly elections fraudulently. The APHC came in to being with a pledge not to support any election held under Indian Constitution.

Geelani who was then part of Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI) started working independently accusing others of ‘sell out’. Mirwaiz was elected as chairperson of other Hurriyat and occupies the seat since then. His faction held series of talks with government of India which was publicly opposed by Geelani and his coterie. In 2004, Geelani, along with his confidant Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai founded Tehreek-i-Hurriyat which led to his ouster from JeI’sShoora. He claims, still, to be basic member of JeI which is in contravention to framework of the organization which clearly says that one person can’t be member of two organizations, simultaneously.

Since his parting ways with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and others, the resistance camp running under him – Hurriyat (G)–observers believe that it has been facing major heat from the state agencies.

History has it: Geelani has been rude to both – state and as well as to those who, he claims, are collaborators. He even does not spare his ‘own’ JeI. But once, it is number game, anyone and everyone is welcome!

After Mirwaiz ‘recommended’ to his faction sitting across LoC of ‘throwing out’ Shabir Ahmad Shah, the later formed third front under Hurriyat Conference (JK). This one too is facing internal heat for some days now.

The most recent number game started with five separatists bidding adieu Mirwaiz claiming that the faction is working in conflict with 1993 laid down constitution of APHC. The five persons and their groups were received by ailing Geelani and they formally joined Hurriyat (G) on last Thursday at a function held in uptown Hyderpora.

Confirming the development, Hurriyat (G) said that the new members vowed to continue the resistance till “the return of the last Indian soldier from Kashmiri soil” at any cost.

The ridiculing part of the story is that Geelani was fuming on all those who were not part of his group for participating in talks with GoI and supporting ‘Four-Point Formula’ of General Pervez Musharraf. But now same people are subordinates of Geelani.

Before devastating floods hit Kashmir, Geelani had appealed all separatists for forging an alliance. On the other side, Mirwaiz group alleged that unity among separatists is not happening because of the arrogance and rigidity of Hurriyat (G).

Domestic Abuse

Shakeel Ahmad Ahanger, brother and husband of late Asiya and Neelofar respectively of Shopian — who were allegedly raped and murdered in 2009 — has been charged of attempting to murder her second wife by the state police in Shopian.

After his first wife, Neelofar, was raped and then brutally murdered allegedly by men in uniform, Shakeel had married Shubi Jan two years ago.

The wife of Shakeel had approached Chief Judicial Magistrate Shopian on May 05 and had moved an application against the atrocities her husband had done to her says a police official.

He said that CJM directed police station concerned to file First Information Report (FIR) against Shakeel Ahmad Ahanger.

Under FIR No 67/2015Ahanger is booked for charges like attempt to murder, dowry, attack on modesty of woman and injury to a person.

Ahanger termed the case a political plot. “My wife is relative of a politician who contested the last assembly elections in which I campaigned for boycott,” Ahanger said. “The candidate lost and to avenge me, he is now using my wife against me.”

Domestic abuse is not new in Kashmir but in the past week a couple of cases have been reported across Kashmir. Three of them, two from south Kashmir and one from Srinagar, where admitted in SMHS in a single day.

They had life-threatening burns, allegedly rooted in domestic violence, and were admitted at the Burns Ward of SMHS Hospital.

Hospital authorities claim that the cases of homicides and suicides among married women are on the rise and the path of recovery is made more difficult by poverty.

In the year 2013, seven incidents of dowry deaths were reported in the state of Jammu and Kashmir while as 428 women were assaulted. The number of incidents, since then, have spiked at a staggering rate.

The authorities at the lone women police station in the city inform they receive as many as four complaints of domestic violence everyday.

Brutal Sleaze

Sunil Kumar and his wife Rajni Devi, both residents of Chinore, Jammu are held again. This time around it is for murdering a 23-year-old paramedical student, Shivani Jaral, who was living in a rented accommodation at Sanjay Nagar.

An immoral trafficking case of 2010 is already pending against the Kumar couple. They are accused of running a racket at multiple points in Jammu and supposedly eight women are working for them.

Police started investigating after Vishno Devi, the deceased’s mother, filed Shivani’s missing report on March 19. The SSP says after deep questioning and thorough investigation revealed that the couple first killed Shivani then chopped her into pieces and dumped it into sceptic tank.

Sources said the victim left her residence at Sanjay Nagar on March 12 and the last location of her mobile phone was found to be in the Chinore area.

The exact motive is not yet clear; the police officials say that they are looking at every aspect of the killing as how the girl came into the contact.

The entire operation to nab the accused was conducted under the supervision of SDPO, City, Sachin Gupta, SP, City (South), Udaya Bhaskar and SSP, Jammu.

Meanwhile, the body of the deceased was shifted to the mortuary of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Jammu. FSL report may add to the details.

Housing Problem

Home-LessOnce the elected members to state legislatures lose next election, they lose every facility. But in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, rules change due to instability in the state.

Just days after, those members of last dispensation in J&K who lost their respective seats in state legislature and Indian parliament, the new dispensation asked them to vacate the government allotted residential and other official apartments.

The aggrieved ex-MLAs and MPs approached the state High Court decided to form a committee which shall look in to the matter. It directed the ex-MLAs and MPs to continue stay in their respective flats.

“State Government shall constitute a committee headed by Additional Director General of Police, Security and comprising District Magistrates Srinagar and Jammu, Director Estates, Superintendents of Police, Security Srinagar and Jammu and any other member opted by Additional Director General of Police, Security to make an objective assessment of threat perception of each of petitioners”, High Court bench directed.

Court held that the situation of State of J&K is all along different from other States of Indian mainland as the State has been worst affected by turmoil and anti-national activities for the two and half decades which made the political activists life vulnerable.

“We have long list of protected persons, who but for Government accommodation and security provided to them, would have fallen prey to nefarious designs of elements inimical to peace, progress and public order,” observed the bench.

Court said that till the assessment of threat perception is made petitioners shall be allowed to retain the present Government accommodations.

“In the said background need to allow petitioners to retain present Government accommodation and security cover in their use or to provide alternate Government and hired accommodation”, court said. Court also directed for recommendation of committee before the Government after examining the matter on threadbare within the period of two weeks.


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